Finally! Trainer shares secret to a better behaved dog - and it’s all in how you dish out rewards

Man training dog with treats outside
(Image credit: Getty Images)

As a dog owner, there are few things more frustrating than pouring your time and energy into training your pup and not getting the results you want. 

While the best dog treats certainly form an important part of any training regime, it turns out that rewarding your canine companion for good behavior is just one piece of the puzzle - how and when you do it is even more important when it comes to setting your pup up for success.

In a video shared to Instagram, trainer Adam Spivey, founder of Southend Dog Training, demonstrates the importance of timing when dishing out rewards and how using treats in the right way increases obedience in dogs. 

You can view the clip below or keep reading to discover the key points covered by Spivey in his training video. 

Working with an adorable (and newly obedient!) pup in the video, Spivey demonstrates when the best time is to dish out a reward.

"If he listens first time, he always gets a reward," he explains to the pup's owner. "If I have to repeat myself, he does not get a reward."

If you've ever fallen into the trap of rewarding your dog whenever they do what you ask (even if you've had to ask them ten times), rest assured, you're not the only pet parent to have made this mistake - we're guilty too!

But according to Spivey, it's crucial that we don't reward our pups if we're having to repeat ourselves or if we have to intervene to correct a behavior and once again, he demonstrates this with the pup he's training.

"If he breaks position and I have to put him back, he does not get a reward," Spivey says. "Let's say he breaks position now and I have to put him back, give it three to five seconds so that he knows he's in this position, then you can reward so that there's no confusion."

Spivey says that rewarding a dog immediately after putting them back into a position that they've broken from is a common mistake amongst owners. 

"People will either say 'sit' and the dog won't do it, so they'll get a treat out to make him do it - bribery - so now he'll ignore you until your hand goes into the treat pouch. Or the dog will break position so you get a treat out to put them back, but then they wonder why the dog keeps breaking position."

If you want to see positive changes in your dog's obedience levels, try following Spivey's tip and rewarding them on the first command only. "f you have to repeat yourself, no reward. If they break position, no reward. But if you sit there [for three to five seconds] after I've put you back in position, reward."

For more great tips and tricks, check out our guide to how to deal with a badly behaved dog.

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.